Sunday, October 17, 2010

Book Journal

Well, unfortunately, it's been awhile since I've posted.  I was sick with a lingering virus most of September and just couldn't keep up with daily responsibilities, much less anything extra.  But I've been wanting to share this project that I recently got started on.  It's a book journal, and it's something I've been thinking of making for a long time.

I'm kind of strange about reading -- I pretty much only read "classic" literature.  My reasoning here is pretty simple.  The "classics" are supposed to be books that, for one reason or another, have stood the test of time and continue to have something important to offer readers, right?  Since I am a slow reader and don't get many books finished in a year, I figured I might as well devote my time to tackling some of the great books that (as an English Literature major in college) I was probably supposed to read, but never did.  I had the idea of starting a book journal quite awhile ago, but never got around to actually making one.  I thought it would be kind of neat to have a place to record my own personal thoughts about the books that I've been reading.

Finally, a few weeks ago, I dove in and got started on the journal.  Mine is housed in a 6x6 album, just one I had left over from the days when I used to make lots of little albums in this size for baby gifts.  I had a simple K&Co. one with a "map" cover sitting in the drawer that I decided to use for my book journal.  At some point, I might embellish or change the cover, but for now, it's fine.  I thought the map could signify my reading journey, or maybe that's a little too corny.  A major selling point for me is that the album has 20 interior page protectors, twice as many as some others, plus it has a post binding so I can add additional page protectors in the future if I want to.

Anyway, the photo above is the inside cover page of the album.  I decided to keep it very simple and just call the album "Books I've Read."  The week before, I had been playing with my new set of Copic markers, coloring stamped images, so I had the blue and purple butterfly image sitting on my craft table and decided to use that for the cover page.  I chose the Quickutz font "Blossom" for the title because it's a font I happen to own in three sizes.  Ok, I don't just "happen to" own it in three sizes.  It is my all-time, hands-down favorite font so I own it in about every format that exists.  I used the "grand" size font for the title page.  

For the inside layouts, I decided ahead of time to do a two-page layout for each book.  I created a template for my comments in Word Perfect (yes, I know, I'm the only person that still uses this software but I prefer it over Word, which I am required to use at work).  My template has spots for the name and author of the book, the date that I finished reading it, my reasons for picking up the book in the first place, and then of course a large area for my thoughts about the book.  I decided that for the left-hand side of each layout, I would simply take a photo of the book and mount it on cardstock along with a die-cut title and a flower or two.  Again, super simple, but I think it looks nice.  I used my smallest size Blossom font for the book title, to ensure that it would fit in the space.

The photo above is the layout that I made for Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle," which I read this summer.  My 16 year old son read it in his English class last year and was very moved and affected by the book.  So much so that he kept insisting I had to read it, which I finally did.  My second layout is below, featuring "Anna Karenina."  By the way, if you've read this book, I'd love to hear your comments on it!  I decided to read it because many people say it's the best book ever written.  I kept thinking, how can I go through life when I haven't read arguably the greatest book ever written?  So if I had a bucket list (which I don't, because I abhor that term), I guess I would be crossing "read Anna Karenina" off of it.

Another thing that motivated me to finally get the book journal started was that a friend at work and I are planning to read Tolstoy's "War and Peace" together over the winter.  She'll be reading it on her cute little Kindle, while I haul the 1,200 page volume around.  In any case, we plan to meet each week to talk about what we've read, and I found some discussion questions online that we'll use as starting points.  Before we start "War and Peace," though, I have to finish D.H. Lawrence's "Women in Love."  Let me just say that it's a strange book, and it's hard to read, so it's taking me even longer than normal to finish it.  In any case, I really did want to keep the layouts in my book journal simple so that when I finish a book, I can just pull up a template, write down my thoughts, take a photo of the book cover, and have a finished layout to add to the album in no time.

Have you made a book journal or a similar kind of project?  Many years ago, when one of my primary hobbies was counted cross-stitch, I kept an album of photos of projects that I'd finished and given away as gifts.  Even now, I love occasionally looking through that album and remembering those special pieces.  If you've done an ongoing journal like my book journal or cross-stitch journal, I'd love to hear about it!  For now, though, wish me luck in getting "Women in Love" finished and into the book journal!